LOS ANGELES – Seeking environmental justice for all Californians, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case in support of efforts by the Port of Los Angeles to reduce air pollution through its Clean Trucks program.
The Port of Los Angeles, together with the Port of Long Beach, constitutes the fifth-largest port in the world. Every year, some 169 million tons of cargo flow through the Port of Los Angeles. Most of this cargo is transported on land by means of a fleet of 16,000 diesel trucks, which are prolific emitters of air polluting exhaust.
These diesel emissions posed a major safety hazard to the neighborhoods surrounding the Port, where residents were exposed to cancer risks estimated to be 60% higher than the overall cancer risks of individuals living in the entire South Coast air basin.
In 2008, in an effort to reduce air pollution caused by a fleet of largely decades-old, high-emission diesel trucks, the Port established its Clean Trucks program, which requires that trucks transporting cargo in and out of the Port must meet higher diesel emission standards. The program is a contract system that only allows port access to trucks that are clean, well-maintained, meet higher emissions standards and are driven by employees of the contracting companies. The Port also invested $56 million to purchase or subsidize the purchase of cleaner trucks.
In July 2008, the American Trucking Association and a group of independent owner-operators sued the Port of Los Angeles over the Clean Trucks program. In August 2010, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Port – thereby affirming it could combat air pollution in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. The American Trucking Association appealed that decision.
The Attorney General’s amicus brief urges the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the district court’s decision and stresses that a public agency can make a business decision to go “green” when spending its own funds to contract for services.
Neighborhood and environmental groups filed numerous lawsuits against the Port. These lawsuits have delayed the Port’s plans to expand its cargo terminal facilities. The Clean Trucks program aimed to put an end to these lawsuits, protect the Port’s investment in clean and safe trucks, and establish a system of oversight to control which trucks enter and exit the terminals.
A copy of the amicus brief is attached to the online version of this release and can be found at: http://ag.ca.gov/.